Middle East

Iraqi forces push onto Mosul University grounds

  • Iraqi Army soldiers load rockets into a multi-barrel rocket launcher during fight against Islamic State militants to regain control of Mosul University in the eastern side of Mosul, Iraq, Friday, Jan. 13, 2017. Iraqi special forces entered Mosul University on Friday in their latest advance along the eastern front as they battle Islamic State militants for control of the city, according to senior Iraqi officers.(AP Photo/ Khalid Mohammed)

    Iraqi Army soldiers load rockets into a multi-barrel rocket launcher during fight against Islamic State militants to regain control of Mosul University in the eastern side of Mosul, Iraq, Friday, Jan. 13, 2017. Iraqi special forces entered Mosul University on Friday in their latest advance along the eastern front as they battle Islamic State militants for control of the city, according to senior Iraqi officers.(AP Photo/ Khalid Mohammed)  (The Associated Press)

  • Civilians return to their neighborhood recently liberated from Islamic State militants in the eastern side of Mosul, Iraq, Friday, Jan. 13, 2017.  Iraqi special forces entered Mosul University on Friday in their latest advance along the eastern front as they battle Islamic State militants for control of the city, according to senior Iraqi officers. (AP Photo/ Khalid Mohammed)

    Civilians return to their neighborhood recently liberated from Islamic State militants in the eastern side of Mosul, Iraq, Friday, Jan. 13, 2017. Iraqi special forces entered Mosul University on Friday in their latest advance along the eastern front as they battle Islamic State militants for control of the city, according to senior Iraqi officers. (AP Photo/ Khalid Mohammed)  (The Associated Press)

  • Iraqi special forces fight against Islamic State militants to regain control of Mosul University, in the eastern side of Mosul, Iraq, Saturday, Jan. 14, 2017. (AP Photo/ Khalid Mohammed)

    Iraqi special forces fight against Islamic State militants to regain control of Mosul University, in the eastern side of Mosul, Iraq, Saturday, Jan. 14, 2017. (AP Photo/ Khalid Mohammed)  (The Associated Press)

Iraqi commanders say that their forces have secured less than a quarter of Mosul University Saturday as they face stiff resistance from Islamic State fighters in the battle for control of the city.

Brig. Gen. Haider Fadhil and Lt. Gen. Abdul-Wahab al-Saadi said that Iraqi forces continued to push into the university compound from the southeast a day after they first breached the grounds Friday morning. Thick clouds of black smoke rose over the sprawling complex Saturday morning. Mortar fire and gunshots could be heard from ongoing clashes.

The massive operation to retake Mosul, Iraq's second largest city, from IS was launched in October. Since then Iraqi forces have slowly clawed back about a third of the city.